Blog: When Institutions are Responsive
08.28.2012 | Posted by Pam Costain, AchieveMpls CEO
Yesterday was the opening day of school in Minneapolis and the launch of a wonderful new program that puts high school students on city buses for their transportation.
The Minneapolis Public Schools (MPS) Go-To Student Pass enables high school students to ride buses free of charge—not just to and from school, but also to work, after school activities, volunteer jobs and even weekend fun.
Go-To passes respond to a major issue –lack of transportation—identified by youth themselves as a barrier to their participation in a variety of programs. The passes allow greater freedom and flexibility for young people, will boost ridership on public transportation and hopefully create long-term transit riders among our youth. It is a winning strategy, and an example of the power of partnership to make good things happen for young people.
When this idea was first proposed four years ago, I was serving on the Minneapolis School Board and was a representative to the Youth Coordinating Board. It is no simple thing to move even the best ideas into action, especially when cumbersome public institutions are involved.
Making Go-To passes become reality required tremendous commitment and coordination between MPS and Metro Transit, as well as the support of the Youth Coordinating Board staff and elected officials. There were numerous studies and pilots and funding issues and logistics to be worked out, but in the end, it did happen.
Young people served by AchieveMpls career and college readiness programs can now ride a bus to their internship, stay after school to work on a college application, participate in a college fair across town, meet with students from other schools to plan a college-going campaign or have access to a computer at their local library in the evening.
Great thanks to all who made the Go-To passes a reality. I want to give a special shout-out to current Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius, who championed this idea for many years while working in MPS. Bravo!